When conjuring a mental picture of the internet, my mind wanders back to a strip of Route 9W in West Haverstraw, NY. Back in the 1970’s I remember the installation of the first McDonald’s. Jack in the Box operated across the street and Pizza Hut just down the road. Kentucky Fried Chicken could be found about a quarter mile north of those franchises as well as a Chinese Restaurant and Domino’s Pizza.
For drivers seeking something to eat, Route 9W offered quick, in-and-out experiences across a variety of cuisines.
I’ve often likened the internet to a road populated by fast food restaurants. Competition is fierce so loyalty, awareness and availability are keys to building a consistent clientele. Failure to do so results in the customer pulling their car toward the next drive-thru window.
Fast food chains often rely on emotion and psychology in their marketing tactics. For instance, my kids are well aware that Happy Meals come equipped with toys.
In Vance Packard’s extraordinary book “The Hidden Persuaders” he quotes Pierre Marineau in 1956:
“Basically what you are trying to do is create an illogical situation. You want the customer to fall in love with your brand and have a profound brand loyalty when actually content may be very similar to hundreds of competing brands.”
The challenge, Marineau pointed out, involves creating differentiation. “…Some individualization for the product which has a long list of competitors very close to it in content.”
How can your organization use psychological tactics to please your audience?
1. Imagery: Big, bold images dominate modern User Interface. Lead stories come equipped with massive photos. Picking the right photo is paramount to success. In the case of news, it’s not enough to post a picture of a politician on a soap box. Instead we’re seeing images in which facial expressions display emotion, surprise, anger or passion.
In sports, action and sinew work better than a press conference photo.
And, of course, we’ve all witnessed the explosion of “link bait” at the bottom of content pages. Link bait offers perfect examples of imagery hooks targeted to specific audiences. Techniques include the deployment of outlandish photos or sexy celeb shots to reel in clicks.
2. Speed: Thanks to social media, speed and the ability to break news first often drives clicks and brand awareness. The brand names with large Twitter followings are entities unto themselves. If you organization owns major news hounds and rumor mongers, how does their brand represent yours? Does breaking news raise the value of a brand? When stuff is going down – a sport’s trade deadline or a terrorist attack – does the delivery of content build a degree of trust for consumers who are now hitting “refresh” on Twitter or your website during breaking news situations?
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 19, 2015
3. Association: Quality sources still matter because they create a sense of quality and trust. Consistent viewpoints from outside sources and experts lend credibility to analysis and breaking news. Your brand creates an impression of gravitas.
4. Brain Software Security Flaws: Hackers seek vulnerabilities in systems to gain access. The human mind offers a myriad of security flaws and hacker openings: fear, guilt, anger, anxieties, hatred, greed, vanity, opportunity, etc. For sports, how will your team cope if they don’t re-sign a pending free agent? If your team loses, it’s the end of the world. How will a pending bill in Congress impact your life? An economist thinks the bull market will burst or supplies of a product dwindle.
5. Value: When the consumer reaches the end of a piece of content will they achieve a sense of value? Social media shares bolster the notion of value as a consumer feels compelled to share the piece with their social network. But how can you replicate that feeling and connect with them to dig deeper into your content offerings? Does another “value” experience exist right next to the one they’ve just enjoyed?
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